Fact or Fiction: Composting

By: Staff

4 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

The average American household throws away 470 pounds of food waste every year. Sure, composting is the responsible thing to do, but isn't it complicated and labor-intensive? Doesn't it stink up your yard? Take our quiz and find out.

Only 10 percent of the solid waste generated by Americans every year gets recycled.

False. Twenty-seven percent is recycled, but that's still not very much.

Advertisement

The four main things you need for composting are: organic waste, soil, water and air.

True. Microorganisms in the soil (which need oxygen and water) break down the waste to form compost.

Advertisement

You should never add meat and dairy products to a compost pile because they'll make it smell bad.

It's true that fatty items like meat and dairy can cause foul odors, but if you manage your pile well, it shouldn't be a big problem.

Advertisement

Your first compost pile could take almost a year to fully decompose, but after that it'll take about two to three weeks (if you're really efficient).

It's true that an efficient compost pile can be finished in about two to three weeks, but there's really no difference between your first try and your 50th.

Advertisement

You should never add human waste to a compost pile.

Yes, steer away from this. Beyond the obvious odor issue, human waste could contaminate the pile with parasites.

Advertisement

The optimal ratio of carbon to nitrogen in a compost pile is about 30:1.

That is the correct ratio (and, just so you know, all the cool composters call it C:N ratio). It sounds complicated, but you can consult a list of C:N ratios of common compost-pile ingredients and figure it out from there.

Advertisement

Temperatures in a compost pile can reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 Celsius).

Compost piles do heat up, but they don't get that hot. The high range is about 100 to 150 degrees F (38 to 66 C).

Advertisement

You should turn your compost pile once a week to oxygenate it.

Nope, you need to turn it every day or every other day to keep things going properly.

Advertisement

If you see gas bubbles on your compost pile, don't worry. That means things are working fine.

The gas bubbles are carbon dioxide is being released, which means that everything is A-OK.

Advertisement

Your compost is finished when the pile's volume has gone down about 25 percent and its temperature is below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

Almost, but not quite. The pile needs to be reduced by 50 to 75 percent.

Advertisement

Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!